Film Friday: The Company Men

When Bobby Walker loses his well-paid job he is sure he’ll find more work, he’s young and capable and used to earning mega-bucks. Powerless to hang on to a job he thought would last a lifetime, he embarks on a soul-destroying fruitless search for new work. Day after day he goes out to hunt for jobs that just aren’t there.

His builder brother-in-law however makes him an offer. If he’s desperate why not come and do some hands-on construction work. But Bobby refuses, he’s a thinker, not a builder. Plus he’s threatened by the man’s bravado and brusque speeches. He’s used to tapping keyboards, how could he make a living swinging a hammer or slapping paint? Bobby’s wife Maggie is the level headed one, the realist, she’s the one making necessary cutbacks. It’s Bobby who can’t face reality, still living as if everything is fine. Slowly he loses everything. His Porsche, his place at the golf club, his luxury home and lifestyle. He finds a road back but it’s not an easy one.

Whether or not you’ve ever found yourself in the very difficult wilderness of unemployment you may well resonate with the characters here. Many of us guys are insecure beings trying desperately to look okay. When any kind of disaster strikes we’re in danger of coming apart. For Bobby this is a time when it will either make or break him. Bobby’s wife seems better equipped to deal with the situation. In spite of Bobby’s business acumen he’s like a teenager again, beating the walls because he cannot get his own way.

The Bible is full of guys hitting walls and losing the plot. Time and again disaster hits those we may think of as heroes. Moses grows up in a royal court, and when trying to do good accidentally kills a guy. The next thing you know he’s running from the law, a good man gone bad. Can he still make something of his life? Can God still make something of it? Joseph is a cocky teenager in his multi-coloured coat, full of dreams about a successful life ahead. Then he finds himself banged up in prison, wrongly accused and forgotten by his family. Has God forgotten him too? An ill-fated bloke known as Job is like Bobby in The Company Men, he has everything. Luxury life, the Porsche, the big house, the great salary. Then the camel dung hits the strimmer. Overnight he loses the lot – family, health, work, home. Everything. He finds himself cowering in a corner wondering if it’s worth going on. The wheels have come off his best laid plans. Does God care? Is God still there? He looks at the sky, makes a fist and begs for what’s left of his life to go up in smoke. The Bible is jammed with these guys, and it doesn’t offer cliché’s or platitudes. It respects them, accepts that in life the wheels often come off, and shows us how these guys deal with their extreme difficulties in very different ways.

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